How to care for a wound

Question:

How do I care for a wound?

Answer:

 Cleaning the wound is an important step on the road to healing

Cleaning the wound is an important step on the road to healing

It’s frustrating when you bring your horse in from the field to find he’s injured himself, despite your best intentions to remove anything he could possibly hurt himself on. 

When you discover a wound, it’s important to consider the following factors:

  • Is the wound bleeding profusely? This requires immediate attention and you need to phone your vet

  • Where is the wound? If there are any important structures beneath the wound, such as joints or tendons, the injury could need more investigation and it’s wise to get the vet

  • Is he in a lot of pain? If the wound is affecting his ability to walk, phone your vet

  • Some wounds, especially on the upper body, can appear horrific if there’s a lot of skin damage. These wounds can usually be stitched together quite easily so phone your vet and try not to panic.

Emergency wounds

In severe arterial haemorrhage cases, where the blood is spurting out under pressure, immediate action is required. Phone your vet as soon as possible and apply direct pressure to the wound until they arrive, using anything that’s clean (such as a towel or stable bandage). Hold this in place until the vet arrives. If the blood soaks through, put another dressing (bandage or towel) over the original. Don’t be tempted to remove the original as you’ll disturb any clotting processes that has started.

Superficial wounds

For superficial wounds, you can clean it up using the following steps. Remember to check it frequently and phone your vet if you’re worried.

  • To clean the wound, first make a weak solution of hibiscrub in some water. This should be about 12ml of hibiscrub per litre of water, just enough to turn the water slightly pink.

  •  Soak a gauze pad in the hibiscrub and begin cleaning the wound. If you only have cotton wool to use, make sure you soak it thoroughly to prevent any stray threads getting into the wound. Gently clean in only one direction to ensure you’re not putting any bacteria back into the cut.

  •  Once clean and dry, apply a clean, sterile dressing to the wound. Then, if
    you’re still concerned, phone your vet. Remember to check the wound the
    following day to ensure it hasn’t got any worse overnight.

By cleaning the wound, you’ll be giving your horse the best possible chance of the wound healing quickly and successfully. Hibiscrub prevents bacteria building up in the wound for at least six hours, but remember to use only a mild solution, as directed. If you don’t have any, make a saline solution instead. This is easily done and can be made by adding a teaspoon of table salt to a pint of water.

The importance of hydration

If you don’t have hibiscrub or salt to hand, use a hosepipe and flush the wound with as much water as you can. There’s an old veterinary saying that ‘dilution is the solution’, so if in doubt,
hose the wound for 10 minutes with cold water and apply a clean sterile dressing. Don’t be tempted to apply purple spray, wound powder, or any other topical wound product, these can irritate the wound and delay the healing.

Don’t miss the latest issue of Your Horse Magazine, jam-packed with training and veterinary advice, horse-care tips and the latest equestrian products available on shop shelves, on sale now. Find out what’s in the latest issue here